Cover Song Joong Ki holding a cup of iced Americano in Vincenzo. (Image: Netflix)

Ever envied your fave K-drama characters as they chowed down on delectable-looking food? Here's how to ignite the foodie (and appetite) in you

The influence of Korean culture all over the world is just so intense, so much so that a lot of people go crazy about the latest series and get curious about just anything the actors and actresses eat, like and do. We take a look at some of the popular bites and booze that we often see in K dramas and see for yourself if you're already one of those who fell deep into the Hallyu black hole.

(Related: A Travel Guide To Hongdae, Seoul’s Most Vibrant Neighbourhood)

1. Corn Dog

A popular Korean street food, this deep-fried battered hotdog was a vital part of the 2020 K drama, Start-Up. In the series, Choi Won-deok (Kim Hae-sook), grandmother of leading lady Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy) owns a corn dog business where she met second lead Han Ji-pyeong (Kim Seon-ho) who would, later on, be involved in a maze of interesting twists. Corn dog is a kind of snack that somehow brings out the child in you, or in this case, childhood memories for Han Ji-pyeong.

2. Bungeoppang

A famous street snack during winter, this fish-shaped pastry filled with red bean paste (and sometimes custard) is traditionally cooked in a mold similar to a waffle iron.

It recently gained attention again when the blockbuster tvN and Netflix series Vincenzo showed the Cha-Cenzo (a nickname for the Hong Cha-young-Vincenzo Cassano lead duo in the series) often snacking on this delicacy, which turned out to have a special connection with the childhood of Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-ki). This snack also has an ice cream sandwich version from a popular dairy company in South Korea.

(Related: Vincenzo: What Jewellery Does Jeon Yeo-Bin Wear in the Hit Korean Drama?)

3. Egg Drop Sandwich

This sandwich may look fancy but it's one of the easiest snacks to do as well as one of the favourite grab-and-go items in South Korea. Popularised by Korean chain Egg Drop!, this Instagram-worthy sandwich is made of fluffy scrambled eggs, melted cheese and crisp bacon enveloped in thick, buttery toast.

It's a calorific kind of treat perfect for cheat days. In the heartwarming K drama 18 Again, the young version of Hong Dae-young (Lee Do-hyun, 57th Baeksang Arts Awards nominee for Best New Actor) gave his daughter Hong Shi-ah (Roh Jeong-eui) and her friends this snack for he knows it's her daughter's favourite. 



4. Tteokbokki

How could we not include tteokbokki in this list? Perhaps one of the most Googled and replicated recipes among K drama fans, tteokbokki is a kind of street food that has rice cakes and fish cakes drenched in a hearty sweet-spicy sauce and often made even more sinful with stretchy melted cheese. So popular that even the instant, microwavable version is often sold out in Asian groceries. The most sensational appearance of this Korean staple is in the 2019 drama Romance is a Bonus Book, where Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-suk) and Kang Dan-i (Lee Na-young) kissed while indulging in rice cakes and fish cakes. Must be the hot and spicy version, yes?

Romance is a Bonus Book is Lee Na-young's comeback to TV after being on hiatus since 2010, while the drama is the last for Lee Jong-suk before he entered military service. With Lee Jong-suk's discharge early this year, fans can't wait to see him again, this time, with his handsome long-hair look.

5. Makgeolli

Soju may be the most popular alcoholic drink brought to the world by the Koreans. However, there's another understated libation that's gaining popularity now, thanks to Song Joong-ki's latest high-rating drama, Vincenzo, which puts the spotlight on makgeolli.

A cloudy, off-white rice wine that is 80 per cent water and 6-8 per cent alcohol, makgeolli is a sweet-tangy old-school drink that is nutritious with high levels of lactic acid and lactobacillus bacteria. It is believed to aid digestion, improve the immune system and slow the ageing process. It is also rich in fibre. 

(Related: Meet The Cast of Netflix's Vincenzo: Song Joong Ki, Jeon Yeo Bin and More)

6. Banana Milk

Remember Ji Eun-tak (Kim Go-eun) in Ji Eun-tak in Guardian: The Lonely and Great God where she is always spotted drinking this tiny dairy drink? That little iconic bottle is banana milk from one of Korea's decades-old dairy producers, Binggrae. So popular that it's recorded to have sold 800,000 bottles each day in Korea in 1974 and around six billion bottles have been sold across the country.

The bottle's design is inspired by traditional Korean jars. It is reported that this milk drink was created in support of the South Korean government's goal of encouraging its locals to drink more milk. Banana at that time was considered an expensive ingredient, thus, a luxury. Today, the banana flavoured milk is distributed worldwide including in groceries and convenience stores in the Philippines.

7. Chapaguri a.k.a Ram-Don

One of the most controversial dishes in the Korean entertainment industry, ram-don (also known as jjapaguri or chapaguri or short for Chapaghetti and Neoguri, two different kinds of instant noodles Korean manufacturer Nongshim) shows the stark line between socio-economic classes. It was reported that the term “ram-don” was invented for the film by subtitle translator Darcy Paquet, as the actual Korean name for the dish, jjapaguri—a combination of instant “ramen” and “udon”.

The dish is a mash-up of Chapagetti, Chinese-inspired jajang ramen noodles, and Neoguri, Japanese-style udon reimagined in a spicy, Korean seafood broth. In the movie Parasite, the dish symbolises the two extreme ends of the society combined in one hearty plate, earning its nickname "class-war-in-a-bowl". The less privileged being represented by the affordable instant noodles used in the dish, while the generous chunks of wagyu beef peppered on top of the mixed noodles represent those who, well, can afford premium ingredients.

8. Fried Chicken

With those snaps of crispy, juicy Korean fried chicken that is oftentimes paired with an ice-cold beer in most K dramas including Crash Landing On You (Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin), Start Up (Bae Suzy, Kim Seon-ho, Nam Joo-hyuk) and My Love From the Stars (Kim Soo-hyun, Jun Ji-hyun), it is quite impossible not to be lured to tap a delivery app and order a box for yourself.

How is this different from the regular fried chicken? Its distinct crunch is a result of a paper-thin batter made of potato starch that coats the whole chicken part, which is then patiently deep-fried twice. Korean fried chicken tends to stay crunchy long after it's taken out of the heat.

9. Ramyun

Equivalent to the expression "Netflix and chill", an invitation to eat ramyun in Korean dramas almost always have a double meaning. While there is a juicy message hidden in the scenes involving instant noodles, we can't discount the fact that eating ramyun is one of the biggest influences of Korean culture on many parts of the world including the Philippines.

Unforgettable scenes include Lee Young-joon (Park Seo-joon) and Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young) in What's Wrong With Secretary Kim?, Gu Seung-jun (Kim Jung-hyun) and Seon Dan (Seo Ji-hy) in Crash Landing On You, and Kim Jin-hyuk (Park Bo-gum) and Cha Soo-hyun (Song Hye-kyo) in Encounter. So, practise caution when answering someone who asks you, "Do you want to eat ramyun?" unless you're ready for it. 

10. Iced Americano

Not a Korean original but one thing is for sure, drinking iced Americano is part of South Korean coffee culture. It is primarily due to the fact the iced Americano is very straightforward, with no milk, and thus, easier on the pocket. Americanos reportedly have the highest ordering rate among all drinks in South Korean cafés so it is not surprising to see our favourite South Korean actors and actresses gulp a cup or two in their shows.

The most recent sighting of this caffeine boost is in Vincenzo, where Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-ki), a South Korean who grew up in Italy was seen ordering an espresso shot typical of Italians. He was with Hong Cha-young (Jeon Yeo-been), a South Korean lawyer who can't last a day without iced Americano. The scene portrayed how two different cultures enjoy different versions of the world's well-loved drink in its purest form.

Last year, Start Up's Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy) indulged in iced Americano in order to ignite her and the team's brainpower while working on ambitious projects in Sandbox.

On top of this, coffee trucks are also very popular in South Korea. You might have heard of actors such as So Ji-sub sending an entire coffee truck to the set of Vincenzo to show support for fellow actors Song Joong-ki and Ok Taecyeon. The Vincenzo lead star was also reported to have sent one to the filming of Mount Jiri to support his good friend Jun Ji-yun.

(Related: 6 New Speciality Coffee Joints in Singapore to Escape to)

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